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Teen Behavior Problem 4:

Hanging Out with Kids You Don't Like

You wince every time your son traipses through the door with his greasy-haired, noisy buddies. Should you suck it up, or say something?

Your Solution

Kids can wear weird clothes, pierce their lips, act rudely and still be decent kids, says Bartell, who advises parents to hold off on criticizing something as superficial as fashion in their kids' friends. "Teenagers are so attached to their friends that it's like criticizing them directly."

On the other hand, if you know that your child has taken up with a group of troubled teens who skip school and do drugs, a talk is in order. "Without putting him on the defensive, tell your child you're concerned about who he's hanging out with and that you're worried he's doing drugs," says Bartell. While you can't forbid your child to hang around with certain kids, you can intervene and try to nip dangerous behaviors in the bud. Don't be afraid to ask for professional help about hanging out with a crowd engaged in negative behavior. Counseling or family therapy can help.

Teen Behavior Problem 5:

Everything's a Drama

Every little thing seems to set your daughter off lately, and the more you try to help, the more she sobs or shouts or slams the door.

Part of being a teenager is feeling things intensely, so what may seem like no big deal to you is hugely important to her.

Your Solution

Parents tend to trivialize the importance of things in teenagers' lives, says Bartell: "What happens is that kids feel misunderstood, and eventually they will stop telling you anything. Right now it is the most important thing in the world that her best friend is flirting with her boyfriend, and you need to take it seriously."

Don't offer advice, disparage her friends or try to minimize it by saying that one day she'll see how silly high school romances are. "Just listen and sympathize," says Bartell. And put yourself in her position -- because, after all, you were once there yourself.

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